(Review originally written at 14 March 2009)

Even though this is still a fine movie, that is skillfully directed, the movie also suffers from Sergei M. Eisenstein 's directing style.

Sergei M. Eisenstein began his directing career back in 1923. He also directed his best and most classic and memorable movies during that decade. I'm talking about real artistic and influential classics such as "Bronenosets Potyomkin" and "Oktyabr". Later during his career he however changed very little in his style and approach of directing. What worked out so extremely well in the '20's and till some extend the '30's however don't work as well for an '40's movie. The movie is directed like all of his silent movies, while of course this movie is fully spoken and features lots of dialog. Still Eisenstein tries to tell the story with the actor's very expressed faces and looks. The movie has lots of long staring, intense looks and big eyes in it, with exaggerated motions, like you will only normally see in an early '20's movie. This movie would had been way better had it been made in the '20's, without sound- or if Eisenstein had picked a different approach, more suiting of its time.

It tells the story also slow and therefore the movie is not at all time that interesting to watch. The movie could had told way more and way faster. That way Eisenstein also wouldn't have had to bother to make two more sequels to this movie, which however got banned or just completely halted by Stalin because the movies were being too critical for his taste about the character of the 'great' Czar Ivan IV and the current 'modern' Soviet reign.

Nevetheless it by no means is a horrible movie. It's just being overrated, probably because it got directed by the great Eisenstein, who is one of the most influential early movie directors from the 20th century.

The movie is still good to watch and it does tell a story filled with themes of all time concerning power and betrayal. Artistically it also is a fine looking one, even though the approach, look and feeling of the movie was already terribly outdated for normal 1944 standards.

Good movie but not really right and suiting for its time. Eisenstein's earlier movies remain his better ones.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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